Survivor Psyche, Episode 8: Mission Abortedby Melinda Smith and Suzanne Tromblay -- 04/09/2003
A new day dawns at Camp Jacaré as Deena and Rob hoist an extremely nasty Jolly Roger up the shelter flagpole. (It’s a lovely gray pair of Roger’s underwear. They couldn’t find a ten-foot pole, so the crew uses a stick to place them in the crook of a tree.) Deena exults about their “lighter, happier tribe” while Rob plays Taps. “My panties are still on fire and I’m going 120 miles an hour, but I feel pretty in control!”
But not everyone in the tribe feels like joining the romp. “I have to play the game according to how things are right now,” a newly chastened Dave assures us. So, what do super-brain Dave and Principal Butch do that morning?
Lick their wounds and regroup?
Strategize how best to ally themselves within the tribe?
Do something completely extraneous to convince everyone how pathetic they are?
”Dave and I are getting ready to build a dock – just a little courtesy for everybody here at camp,” Butch confides to the camera. Rob, Christy, and Alex watch in amusement while Dave and Butch whack at trees. It doesn’t take long before Rob’s simmering envy forces him to make a collect call to his id. “I can’t take anymore. He’s a show-off and he’s arrogant. Dave’s gotta go.” This week, Rob says his main alliance is to Deena, Jenna, Heidi, and surprise! – Alex.
Dave elucidates on his game survival tactics. “I think that I have been on good terms with everybody and hopefully just being a hard worker and dedicated and motivated and fun to be around will keep me around for a little bit longer.” Dave doesn’t sound so much like an All-American Mensa member here, as a boyish innocent who has been hoodwinked by craftier players. He’s Pinocchio to Rob’s Felonious Fox – Oliver Twist taken in by the Artful Dodger.
Matthew, the other brainsucked player, exhibits a more insidious kind of behavior. “The craziest man I have ever met has been living with me 24 hours a day nonstop,” Rob tells us breathlessly. Don Matteo has been spending his leisure time compulsively sharpening his machete and weirding out his tribe members. “He’s creepy,” Christy shudders, “creepy.” Jenna confronts him directly. “Are you gonna butcher us all?” “I promise I won’t harm anyone – I’m a pacifist, guys,” Matthew replies cryptically. “Blood scares me too. Human blood, my own blood – blah!” (This speech is eerily reminiscent of Dracula’s Renfield trying to persuade everyone of his sanity while he’s gobbling down spiders.) We get a good close-up look at Matthew’s bulging biceps and diabolical grin. His fragile psyche is cracking under the pressure of trying to reconcile Rob’s trickster version of reality with what’s actually happening in camp. The former good King Theoden has been brainwashed by Grimma Wormtongue.
Reward Challenge: Take No Prisoners!
The contest area consists of a giant mud pit with flags planted in rows. Everyone is galvanized by the prospect of spending the afternoon at DQ eating strawberry parfaits and brownie sundaes. The players are divided into teams of three and strapped like oxen to constrictive bungee cords. It’s a nitty gritty mudfest as Alex and Dave pull Deena, Rob and Christy struggle along with Butch, and Matthew charges forward like a crazed buccaneer, towing Heidi and Jenna behind him. Matthew gives full rein to his inner pirate in this challenge, wearing his buff swashbuckler style, and clenching his trusty machete between his teeth as he plows toward the flags. (Just kidding! About the machete, anyway.) Heidi and Jenna are merely thoroughbred Matthew’s handicap in this race. The only thing Heidi and Jenna contribute is fodder for the male audience’s fantasy of chicks mud wresting. But Mad Don Matteo and his Shetland Ponies are no match for the mighty thighs of the Clydesdales. Deena, Dave, and Alex win the challenge easily. However, there’s a fly in the sundae – only one member of the team will feast at the ice cream bar. Now, Deena, Dave, and Alex repeat the challenge as an individual event. Deena puts on her game face, and even though Alex is a bona-fide triathlete, they’re no match for jet-propelled Dave. To no one’s surprise, Probst announces that Dave gets to take a date along to the Malt Shop. Dave catches a lucky star when Deena correctly guesses his tiebreaker. She is the alpha player he needs to court to save himself from being cast back into space.
Deena is ecstatic at the prospect of sharing Mr. Misty Kisses with Dave. She squeals with delight and runs up and down the line of players hugging and high-fiving them. The camera cuts back to Bitch-Queen Jenna’s scowling expression more than once. Jenna makes no attempt to put on a happy face and congratulate the winners. She’s either too pissed off or too stupid to realize (unlike former Survivor contestants before her) that she needs to suck it up and smile for the winners. But, that would involve acting, and Jenna merely reacts.
The Howard Johnson Hotel and Ice Cream Bar awaits Deena and Dave. It’s a luxurious bungalow affair, decorated with candles, and furnished with plenty of iced tea, desserts, and bath water. “I’m in strawberry bliss,” Deena sighs rapturously as she partakes of a parfait. Girl from Ipanema-type music plays as Deena and Dave dip and soak. It’s not long before Dave and Deena exhibit surefire signs of a sugar high. They’re relaxed and giddy in their respective tubs, and Dave takes the opportunity to beg for Deena’s help. “It does not take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that in the proverbial sense, I am quite f***ed,” he admits. Deena, the consummate litigator, accepts his plea and offers to act as negotiator on his behalf with the tribe. Matthew is the other player on trial, and they discuss Matthew’s “5150” insanity plea status.
Midnight at the Oasis
Hypocritical Heidi and Jenna snipe about Dave getting a “second” shower. “It’s just so wrong!” they whine. “Banana Split losers!” (What would you do for a Klondike Bar, Jenna? “I’d take my clothes off -- Duh!”) While the girls are washing off their grunge, Rob and the guys strain their necks to catch a glimpse of the bathing broomsticks. “Twigs and Sticks are a nickname for Jenna and Heidi,” Rob confides. “I am aware of how they’re trying to use their sexuality to get me to do things that I wouldn’t normally do. I really do play this game with this head, even though it does look like a different head.” (Excuse me, Rob, are these your eyeballs? We found them in Heidi’s cleavage.)
Like all sensible Survivors, Dave and Deena take great pains to downplay their reward when they get back. Dave calls the resort a “dumbed-down bungalow,” and says the banana split was nothing special. Both Deena and Dave wisely try to slip back into the tribe’s nightly routine, but nothing they can say or do makes Jenna happy. “You had ice cream all day and we are starving and you want to come back and eat my manioc and fish,” she whines in her best Karen from Will and Grace voice. (Jenna seems to forget that she won a big reward for no particular reason a few days back, complete with refreshing shower, deluxe accommodations, and a feast. Did she bring back treats then for her tribemates? But let’s be fair, where would she have smuggled them?) Jenna spits venom when she calls Deena a “fat pig.” “Screw you!” she snarls, but always behind Deena’s back.
It’s Rob’s turn to ooze malice that night as Dave and Heidi snuggle. Rob’s eyes take on a green neon glow as a hot surge of jealousy shoots through his veins. “Is Heidi just trying to play me?” Grimma Robtongue simmers. “What are my chances if Dave isn’t around?”
Hook, Line, and Stinker
The parasite and his clueless host skip through the woods. “I really value my relationship with Rob because he knows the game inside and out. I’m clueless and he’s really a great guy.” Rob is the sinister parrot whispering in Pirate Matt’s ear. “You’re my best friend! Squawk! You’re the best pirate ever! Squawk!” (Here’s a doubloon, Matt, buy a clue.)
Rob has been telling tall tales to Matt about how he, Matt, and Alex will be the Three Musketeers at the end. Rob wonders if all the lies he’s been feeding Matt will eventually bite him in the ass.
The First Shall Be Whacked
The tribe members receive huge clay masks that they decorate to look like themselves for the immunity challenge. Rob immediately focuses on “poor little me” and says that his mask has a Three Stooges haircut. (Come to think of it, Moe had more sex appeal.) Dave feels like his head is on the chopping block, and his mask reflects that sentiment, with liberal smearings of red paint. Butch’s idol is adorned with a pair of spectacles and a goatee.
It’s Amazon Trivia week, using the player’s masks as targets. When the players get an answer right, another player’s mask gets whacked. Logs are attached to ropes that can be released with three cuts of a machete. Of course, the big dogs, Dave and Matt, are singled out first. The battering ram takes Alex out next, followed by Deena. Hilariously, Rob the master strategist, misses every question, including one about the Amazon snake called a Bushmaster. Rob guessed that it was a kind of forest ranger, and tries to save face by joking that he meant “porn star.” Christy enjoys herself most of all, gleefully sending both Rob and Alex to their doom. It’s down to Butch, Jenna, and Heidi. A beleaguered principal is no match for two bratty cheerleaders, and only Jenna and Heidi are left standing. In a contest of wits, who will be the brighter bulb? Since Heidi got her mail order diploma from the Jamaican Gymnastic Institute, that leaves Jenna the winner by default.
Winning jewelry, even a nasty roadkill trinket, cheers Jenna up immensely. She simpers and preens as Probst places the necklace around her neck. (Here’s Jenna’s inner monologue: “Don’t I look pretty? Jewelry at last! It would look even better if I were naked!”)
Lost in Space
Victim-in-waiting Matt is off in his own little world, heedless of how bizarre his actions appear to the others. He’s using his razor sharp machete on his sneakers. “My objective for this afternoon is to MacGyver these into suitable sandals. I’ll be a much happier person as a result.” (Cue Twilight Zone theme here.)
Space Cadet Dave knows his number is up, but tries to swing some votes Matt’s way. Rob has finally got his rival, Dave, in his sights, but can’t resist whining about Dave to Deena and Jenna. Taking Dave down has become a personal vendetta to Rob, since Dave is everything that Rob will never be. Disguising his snipe fest as tactical information, Rob vents to Deena and Jenna about seeing Heidi and Dave snuggle. Jenna shrugs off the news. “Why wouldn’t Heidi snuggle with Dave, you nimrod.”
Tribal Council: Grounded
The condor guano is miles deep at this Tribal Council. Matt tells Probst that he thinks he’s found “true friends” since the merge. Rob, aka King Sh** of Turd Mountain, replies that he’s “so happy with Matthew’s progress! I think that he’s fit in so well. He’s really become an invaluable part of this tribe.” (Snort. Guffaw. Bwaaaah Haaaa Haaaa!!!) Naive sap Matthew nods happily.
Dave, the true target, shoots for the stars in a last ditch effort to win sympathy. “These next three days are important to me and I would like to spend them with the eight people that are sitting in front of me,” he grovels.
Probst asks Jenna if she would pass the Immunity Necklace to someone else, but her model training kicks into high gear. “It’s mine and I’m gonna keep it,” she smirks haughtily. (“Yes, Veruka darling, anything you want, dear.”)
Everyone, including Heidi and Butch, give Dave their vote, and blast our dreamy Star Man out of orbit. When it comes to the ladies, you’ve got the Right Stuff, but Survivor required your undivided attention at the control panel.
Next week: Rob’s treacherous minions challenge their master’s rule. “I’m calling the shots!”
Let’s look at the players.
Butch: Still the go-along-to-get-along guy this week. You followed the leader and voted against your own ally. Groveling will only get you so far.
Dave: Houston, we have a problem. Buddha says, “some people go through life as though they were asleep.” You’ve coasted through life on your intelligence and charm, until you got that nasty wake-up call that rocketed you back on your heels. Too bad it came too late, and now you’ve been beamed aboard the Mother Ship.
Christy: Still having fun this week. No one’s targeting you . They’re too busy trying to take each other out to notice you.
Heidi: You’re looking more like a shaved rabbit every week. The only difference is the rabbit is wearing an intelligent expression on its face.
Alex:You’ve managed to work yourself back into a position of power this week, which nobody can deny. But watch out, now that Dave’s gone. Your alpha dog status may single you out as the next hound to be neutered. Let’s hope Matthew’s mad dog routine continues to draw attention while you raid the hen house.
Deena: Last week, you ruled as Queen of the Amazons. This week, you’re the Dairy Queen – frosty! You played it very cool with Dave and kept the upper hand with the other players.
Matthew: Aaaar, Matey! If ye don’t wish to walk the plank, it would be best if ye aimed yer spyglass at that pesky parrot a squawkin’ in yer ear. He be a right foul bird, and will be sendin’ you straight to Davey Jones’ locker if’n ye don’t mind yer back!
Rob: You reverted back this week to the shameless little craven you’ve always been. It’s “all about me” again. How Dave has all the luck, all the girls, all the attention and you just get crappy masks and a cold, empty sleeping mat. Be a mensch instead of an icky little homunculus.
Jenna: You are mirthless, cold, shallow, and vain. Other than that, you’re the perfect representation of a swimsuit model. (Suzanne insists we put in a reference to Maleficent here. She’s just more likable than Jenna.)
Melinda Smith is a technical illustrator and writer with a background in graphic arts. She and her family live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her sister, Suzanne Tromblay, is a licensed social worker with the State of Ohio. Melinda can be reached at email@example.com.
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